Full time dad, and artist with turtle soul hiding many projects under his shell …
Yéro and I met 3 times in a period of exactly one year – spring 17 till spring 18.
The first time he met la jeune femme, I introduced him to the Immigrant Art Network. The second time, he met la femme en sainte with my huge belly (9 month pregnant ready to pop out, during the annual Christmas gathering of Immart) and today la maman interviewing him with my angel in hands, screaming for attention … and nothing but African songs calm him down … and to sum up, I decided to conduct the interview in French and video it … its very interesting when you become a mom, you think you can do it all … but then again you can ….
Enjoy a casual interview between two artists /parents managed to fit an interview a day before Yéro’s departure …
a photographer who sadly is leaving us for new adventure …
Background – I AM Yéro Djigo
Tell us about your background and your first steps with the camera.
I was born and lived in Mauritania for 35 years of my life, but I had the chance to travel and I travelled a lot since I was 20 years old. I have been touring a little bit in Africa and Europe
Photography is something that’s been in my life since childhood. Like most of the African kids we grew up in front of the television, we spend our childhood admiring what’s happening outside Africa through the screen seeing white people, beautiful landscapes, and everything is astatic through the screen and eventually we become photographers or film directors.
I have been to school and college but I had all the time the frame in my head and when I finished my baccalaureate, I became a cameraman in my neighbourhood. In 2007 I started to work at a local agency called Zahra media, where I filmed many reportages for many different media outlets FRANCE 24, ALJAZEERA, CNN, BBC …
So, I never studied photography in a school and I consider myself an autodidact … years of experience filled with diverse projects helped me reach where I am now.
It’s very easy for me when I hold a camera … I dig in and know how to use it straight away … its very natural for me.
Family life and Denmark – I AM a full time dad
Why are you in Denmark today?
We are here because my wife works for the United Nations. We lived in Mauritania for 8 years, and the main reason to leave the country was to start a family. We had the choice between Geneva and Denmark and we end up choosing Denmark … basically I am here with my family.
My baby is my only model here in Denmark, and since he is born I take pictures of him non-stop today he is 2 years and 2 months … every month we have a photos sitting … he is born in Denmark and yes, Denmark is a country made for family
And why you are leaving now Denmark?
I am leaving because my wife found a new job. With her work, every 3 – 4 years, we have to move to a new country – she is the one who moves with her contract and I am the one who follows. It’s a little bit tiring, especially because you have to start form zero each time, but I think it’s for the best especially as we created this lovely family! We have a beautiful boy who is born in Denmark and a little girl who is made in Denmark and will be born in Paris .
Do you have any names for you little girl?
Yes. In Africa its very easy you name your child after someone you really like and admire, and I really like my sister so she is taking her name.
What about your boy ?
That is the name of my grandfather who is an ex African soldier and veteran and his name is Saidou, and then that’s the name of my son but his mom calls him louis and everyone call him Louis, but I call him Saidou because it’s the name of my grandfather and it is symbolic for me.
Exhibition and Copenhagen photo festival – I AM an artist and can be described as turtle: I am slow I take my time but I give decent results …
Can you tell us about the exhibition at Københavns Kulturcenter and why it took you 3 years to exhibit in Denmark with this project which has been ready for you to exhibit?
It will be hard to answer this question … as I told you earlier I am in Denmark in order to start a family, it’s difficult with the family and responsibilities as I am married to a carrier woman and I am the artist / stay home dad. I didn’t meet the right people the first two years.
And regarding taking part of Copenhagen Photo Festival … it was Nicol who is the director of Immart … she promised me, saying “we will definitely do something with your work because your work is good” and today she helped me to take part in the Copenhagen Photo Festival.
But then I wish this was the first year I moved here, but my life is always like this – my wife moves with a contract and I follow .
I AM an autodidact
Have you thought about going back to reportage and documentary?
As I told you earlier, my domain mainly used to be videography, making reportage and documentaries for NGOs and international organizations. I moved to photography as a free lancer in 2012 to concentrate on photography and only photograph.
For me it’s all the same … as I mentioned earlier, we grow up in front of the tv … an image is an image either its photography or video … and if I had to choose between cinema and photography – as the last 4 years I have been concentrating on photography which is the one I am advanced in, I would concentrate on that.
But in the end I can tell you they both have the same strength. Nowadays we are lucky … with Canon I can do both at the same level.
Are there any other subjects you focused on?
Sure. My first subject and project was the Taliban kids in Africa, which are getting a religious Muslim education and are spread around the streets …. with a boss to control them … begging money …. or food … and their education is based on religion.
At that stage I was working in the first internet café Cybercafé so I managed to convince and bring those kids to the café. I placed them in front of the computer and took pictures. They were afraid of their boss. Eventually it end up being a very strong project but sadly I lost it all!
Have you considered studying photography?
Between 2010 and 2013 I have travelled twice for one month to Paris and had short courses at the journalist school. It is true, in one month you can’t learn a lot. I used to teach about the camera and techniques to other students in Africa.
The type of photography you choose is photojournalism right?
Yes, I did start with photojournalism but with my experience today what I try to do is mix photojournalism and fine art.
As an example , if I am taking a picture of a mom an and her son for a reportage I just focus on them and click, but when I want a portrait, the artistic touch is to find the right frame that includes the two, and I don’t want a picture to be just an image. When someone is passing, he has to stop and look. That’s the artwork I present.
Future plans and book – I AM a storyteller
A book written by an African for Africans
What about the book, are you going to publish it in France?
The book depends on the sale of my artworks.
Since I started this project in 2014 I have financed everything. Flight tickets back and forth, printing, communication, all the exhibitions, everything. It is me who finances them. I still didn’t find a funder for this project and I really hope one day someone will come and finance the book.
Do you think it’s the galleries or the subject of your project that is making it hard to sell?
Yes, I agree with you … there is the fact that those pictures are for exhibition and its hard to buy and have such artwork in one’s home.
I do have many other pictures but I chose to print only 20 – all the rest are for the book. And once I have the chance to get funds or if I sell the pictures, the vision for the book is to publish in France and then in Mauritania.
In France the book will be sold for a price that when you buy a book, you buy two: one for yourself and one for an African in Mauritania, as he can’t afford it. And the main goal of the book is that the young generation read the history written by an African because most of the time it is the French or the British who write history books, and they write what they want.
Today I believe we Africans need to change the image of Africa. Photographers, Artists, Journalist … they need to work together to develop this change, and hopefully when we talk about Africa let it be Africans who are telling the story.
Follow the project on Facebook here.
The exhibition, Mauritanian War Veterans, can be seen until 29 June 2018 at Københavns Kulturcenter, Drejervej 17, Copenhagen Nordvest, Mon-Fri 09:00 – 15:00.